One of the cornerstones of any martial arts school is the group classes. Wing Chun Classes are no exception to this! Private Wing Chun lessons are important for refinement of technique and a more catered sort of class for you, but group classes provide something that a private lesson will not: the chance to apply against fellow students of all levels, from beginners to advanced students. Something that is hard to find, however, is things you should be expecting from any Wing Chun school. Things are left out on websites, things that you have every right to know BEFORE making a commitment. This article is designed to help you ask the right questions when you’re searching for “Wing Chun Classes Near Me” on Google.
Wing Chun Classes for Adults
Class structures will generally have a central subject to focus on. A warm-up is always important to start off with, no matter the subject matter. A Wing Chun Sifu may discuss the specifics of the subject briefly before calling for a drill line for the students to partner up at. A good drill line is one that constantly changes training partners. Talking in a group class is best kept at a minimum, and if necessary, should be kept on-topic. Part of Wing Chun is understanding it WITHOUT being told the answer straight away! After drill lines, sparring tends to come up next. Sparring with your fellow students is very important. School dynamics are ultimately going to shape the individual take-away from each class. While it is certainly important to interact with the Sifu, interacting with the other students should also be encouraged. A good Wing Chun school has students helping each other out!
Wing Chun schools will vary in how traditional they are. How traditional a school you want is purely on you, the potential new student. Do they stick with the lineage of Ip Man, or do they follow a different lineage? One of the best questions you can ask a Sifu of a school, is what their lineage is. If they have a well-documented lineage to show, chances are that they follow a more traditional path at their core.
Finally, when it comes to what you should wear, go with something comfortable—a t-shirt, shorts or workout pants, and socks. Chances are, however, that if you decide to sign up, you will be required to purchase a uniform. In the case of The Dragon Institute, the uniform consists of a t-shirt, kung fu pants, kung-fu slippers, rash-guard sleeves, and a mouth piece.
Wing Chun Classes for Kids
Unlike Wing Chun classes for adults, classes for kids tend to be more rigid in their structure, with that rigidity easing up as the age groups get older. An ideal class size will range around 5 kids per instructor/coach. Age groups will vary depending on the school—the Dragon Institute’s are: Kids group-ages 5-10. Juniors group ages 10-15. A good Wing Chun class for kids will be fun, safe, but also practical, so that confidence and focus can be instilled at that crucial young age, and just like with the adult classes, a sense of class dynamic is also present, so that the more senior students can help beginner students.
When it comes to uniforms for kids, chances are that it will be nearly the exact same as what the adult uniform consists of, however, there could be the inclusion of a belt or sash system. The Dragon Institute uses a colored sash system for its youth age groups.
What is the Difference Between Wing Chun and Other Martial Arts?
Compared to most other forms of martial arts, Wing Chun is a much more practical form of self-defense. It teaches you how to end a fight efficiently. It is a martial art meant for self-defense in the real world and does not participate in sports such as MMA or other competitions. It is an INTERNAL martial art, whereas many other martial arts are EXTERNAL. The difference between the two, is that more often than not, an external martial art teaches you how to respond to an attack in a specific way, while an internal martial art gives you a simple answer to an attack that does not need any sequence to follow. A Wing Chun school should not only emphasize things such as Wing Chun stance training, forms and drills, but also the Wing Chun dummy — also known as the Mook Jong. Wing Chun dummy training is an absolute necessity in Wing Chun. A good Wing Chun school will also teach you what the wooden dummy is for. Any school without one or more wooden dummies is going to have a hard time teaching its students.
How to Know if a School is a Good Fit
A good first step to take when checking out a school is to speak with not only the Sifu of a school, but also the students, or the parents of the students. Ask for their takes on what the school teaches, if they have good things to say about it. Remember that goodwill from the students and parents is just as important!
When interacting with the head instructor of a school, an open and forthcoming instructor is the best kind of instructor. If they’re interested in understanding your goals, as opposed to just knowing what your goals are, that’s great! That shows that they want to help you achieve those too! An instructor that has no interest in understanding your goals is something that should raise a red flag—it could very well mean that they only see you as a source of income. Is that something you would want from a teacher?
Also important is getting the vibe of a school during a group class. The Dragon Institute enforces a “no watching” policy with its group classes. Why? Because in order to understand a martial art in any capacity, you have to FEEL it. By taking part in a group class, not only can you start to get a grasp for the art itself, you can also get a much better feeling for the atmosphere of the school as a whole. Does that atmosphere feel positive? Good! A good martial arts school does not berate their students, ESPECIALLY not a Sifu. We live in an age of reviews, let’s be honest here. Things such as Google reviews, Yelp, etc. are all the rage today. Glowing reviews are all well and good, but ultimately, the choice lies on you to go with your gut instinct about a school. The only review that you can 100% trust, is your own. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
A Brief FAQ
Q: Is Wing Chun easy to learn?
A: The simple answer is no, then yes. The beginning of Wing Chun is easily the hardest part to grasp. You are being taught to think and move in new ways that you probably have not done before. It will feel awkward at first—this is normal! The adaptation period (sometimes called “the dip”) can last anywhere from two weeks to a couple months—each student is different in that regard. Hang in there, with time, dedication, and guidance, it will eventually feel right.
Q: Is Wing Chun good for women?
A: Absolutely! Wing Chun at its core, is designed to allow for smaller people to take down bigger opponents. You do not to be on the ground in order defend yourselves.
Q: Am I too old for Wing Chun?
A: No. Wing Chun is practiced with great benefits, well into your later years. Its focus on efficiency and low kicks are practiced by students well into their late 60’s. Unlike other “hard” martial arts, you don’t tear your joints down. In fact, it has sometimes been referred to as the “old man’s art”.
Q: How does Wing Chun work?
A: Wing Chun students defend themselves using the simplest actions possible, as well as leverage and angles to turn attackers’ strengths against them. Fluidity in Wing Chun is part of what makes it such an aggressive form of self-defense. A fight is not static and rigid, it is fluid, like water.
Q: Is Wing Chun good for self-defense?
A: YES! Wing Chun is a very aggressive form of martial arts, with its cores emphasizing quick, decisive, efficient ends to a fight.
Q: Do I need previous martial arts experience to start?
A: Not at all! In fact, the less martial arts experience you have, the easier a time you will have in grasping Wing Chun and its teachings—less bad habits to break. If you do have previous experience, however, we recommend that you enter any Wing Chun school with an open mind.
Q: I train in another form of martial arts. Is it possible to practice both Wing Chun and my other martial art?
A: While this is certainly possible, we at the Dragon Institute find that learning and sticking with one martial art is ultimately most beneficial. To quote Bruce Lee, “I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.”
Q: How long will it take to get good?
A: Generally speaking, you should ideally be seeing a real difference within 3 months. However, it is important to stress that individual ability between students MUST be taken into consideration. Some people will notice improvements faster than others. You should notice further improvement after a year of training and then another marker after 3 years. Our Wing Chun school has a minimum of 7 years in order to become a Wing Chun Sifu.